Safe Sex

Celebrate Sexual Health on World Sex Day!

Let us tell you something which probably your mother or sister never told you. Sex is critical for your mental and physical health. Just as you need nutrition for that lissome body and water therapy for that ‘soft-as-a-sponge’ skin, sex too, plays an important role in your overall health. It’s a simple play of estrogen and pheromones in your body, but you need to keep those juices happy, if you want to be happy!

It’s weird how, in the land of Kama Sutra, sex is treated like a dirty disease and is shoved under the carpet of ‘shame, shame’. We women are sexual beings, not objects. We have desires, we have fantasies and we have the right to a great sex life too. Sex is as sanskaari as the sindoor and mangalsutra – so don’t let them tell you otherwise! And, most of all, sex is critical for good health.

After menstruation, it’s time to break more taboos and break free from myths and falsehoods. It’s time to talk about sex for a healthier, happier you! It’s the first thing on our to-do list this summer, so we bring to you a ‘sexy’ talk series #JustSayIt where we want the talk about sex, menstruation, intimate health, to be as casual as talking to your Mom. We aim to break the awkwardness by hosting events and making people, especially women, open up about the very things they shy away from.

The first of our talk series is ‘Sex.Truth.Dare.’ which will be held aptly on 9th June, which is also celebrated as World Sex Day, wherein we dare you to discover the truth about sex. In this talk, we will have expert guest speakers who will shed light on many misconceptions and myths and who will help shun inertia and embarrassment. They will motivate you to break the barriers and embrace your body as it is.

It’s fun and it’s free. Interact with sexperts and gynaecologists. Play games. Share and listen to stories and know more about your inner sexual self.

Sex. Truth. Dare

A talk on women’s sexual health.

Date: 09th June 2018 – Saturday

Venue: 91Springboard, B wing, 5th floor, Ackruti Trade Centre, MIDC, Andheri East, Mumbai

It’s free, but we have limited seating only, so pre-register here. And share this with your sisters.
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SheAndYou is an informative portal dedicated to women’s sexual health and awareness, covering the entire spectrum from menstruation to menopause. We believe that the silence around the topic of sex must be broken and the whispers must become louder.

“Navratri allowed the rare opportunity to meet people from the opposite sex,” Dr Sulbha Arora

Navratri is here full-blown and we couldn’t be more excited. However, the festival, for the past few years have been associated with promiscuity among youngsters and we wonder what makes this festival of dance and merry have this unique side to it! Is there more than just the freedom that comes with staying out late at night? If yes, what measures should one take to stay safe? How does one take care of oneself later? To get our answers, we head out to one of the most prominent fertility expert, Dr Sulbha Arora, who is currently Clinical Director in Nova IVI Fertility who gives us an insight into the naughty reputation of Navratri.


Dr Sulbha Arora

In your career, have you seen this trend? Is it true that Navratri brings a bit of naughty side in youngsters?

We used to see this trend some years back, where there was an increased incidence of youngsters of opposite genders interacting more with each other during the Navratri week. This often led to them getting intimate with each other as well, more than they would have the rest of the year.

Why so?

Adolescents had less exposure earlier than they do now. Their deadlines for going out and partying were stricter. Navratri allowed them the rare and much-awaited opportunity to get dressed up, go out and meet people from the opposite sex. It gave them a valid reason to stay out longer than their usual curfew hours. Activities such as group exercises, dancing and laughing are known to increase the release of endorphins – the brain’s ‘feel-good chemicals’. All in all, this festive, charged up, an enthusiastic atmosphere would lead to increase in physical attraction and intimacy as well.

Nowadays, youngsters have more exposure and more chances of interacting with potential partners all year long. Lifestyle changes have come a long way, and now the difference between sexual activity during Navratri or during the rest of the year is not as marked as it used to be earlier.

How does one make sure one is safe?

Whether during Navratri or otherwise, certain safety measures must be borne in mind at all times. Avoid accepting drinks from strangers, as they may be spiked with sedating or hypnotising drugs. If going to a washroom in a public place, avoid going alone and make sure you are accompanied by a friend. Even when the incidents are consensual, sometimes they are unplanned. The boy may not have anticipated this and may not have carried a condom with him. There is no harm in the girl being prepared and carrying one with her when she steps out. Even if the boy does not ejaculate inside, penetration itself can spread STDs, and pre-ejaculate may contain sperms as well. A barrier contraceptive is the safest and most ideal precaution, and must always be used.

If the barrier was not available at the time or was not used, the girl must contact a gynaecologist as soon as possible within the next 24 hours, and take an emergency contraceptive pill, such as the i-pill. These are available over the counter also, however ideally must not be taken more than once in a given menstrual cycle. If sexual relations are anticipated more frequently, it is better to take a regular daily contraceptive pill rather than the emergency pill. Lastly, it is important to note that the pills may have hormonal side effects and also, will prevent only a pregnancy but not the transmission of infections. Therefore barrier contraceptives are preferable to pills for such cases.

Keep a record of your period dates so you know if there is a delay, and contact your gynaecologist immediately if you miss the next period. Early pregnancies can be terminated with tablets and the need for a surgical D&C may not arise if action is taken soon enough.

Is this rampant in Mumbai as well?

In certain sects of society who do not have much opportunity to mingle and socialise the rest of the year.

Have you come across cases where people have regretted their actions. What advice do you give?

I do come across cases of women complaining of side effects such as irregular periods and spotting after taking an emergency pill. In most cases, reassurance is all that is required. I advise them to switch to a regular pill if intercourse is going to be more frequent. I usually do not come across women regretting the sexual act or even a pregnancy if that takes place because women are more aware now and more comfortable with their sexuality. They are more confident and have shaken off the shackles of morality that used to bind them alone and not the men. Most women today will regret an act of sex or an unplanned pregnancy only about as much as a man will. My advice to them in such cases is only to be more careful the next time round and not think of medical terminations of pregnancy as an acceptable substitute for regular contraception.

What? Abortion is legal?


At a conference organised by NGO SAMYAK that I attended last year, I was struck by the ignorance of commoners who were asked to opine on abortions. People were asked they thought abortion was legal in India, and the responses were quite appalling.

Most of them thought abortion is illegal and associated it only with eliminating the female fetus.

So let’s start at the beginning. ABORTION IS LEGAL IN INDIA, and has been for over 46 years. The MTP (Medical Termination of Pregnancy) Act of 1971 ( clearly outlines that safe abortion can be accessed in the following conditions:
1. If the pregnancy has not exceeded 12 weeks (this rules out sex determination which can only happen after 18 weeks)
2. If pregnancy has exceeded 12 weeks but is less than 20 weeks, with consent of two registered medical practitioners, it can be terminated if:

  • Continuing the pregnancy can lead to physical or mental injury to the woman. For example, a pregnancy that resulted from rape can cause grievous mental damage to the survivor, and is eligible for an abortion.
    If a married woman’s contraception has failed, an unwanted pregnancy can be mentally taxing to her, hence she is eligible for a legal MTP.
  • If there is reason to believe that the fetus will have serious genetic abnormalities
  • To ensure safety of the woman, the Law states that abortion must only be performed at Government institutions, or at registered MTP clinics only. In fact, any unregistered practitioner performing abortion is liable for punishment.

    When the Government has made such clear guidelines to make safe abortion accessible to women, why is there such confusion about its legality?

    I think this has to do with the dissemination of messages to curb sex determination and sex selective abortions. The confusion created by using words like ‘female foeticide’ and ‘bhroon hatya’ leads the common citizen to believe that abortion is illegal and if they need one, they have to visit some shady back alley.
    The law clearly has provisions in place to prevent sex selective abortions, and yet all abortions are looked at with suspicion because of erroneous terms used in mass messaging.

    In India, a woman dies every 2 hours due to unsafe abortion.
    These women include urban, educated and supposedly empowered women as well, who could have accessed safe services, but didn’t. Some, because they may have been scared of being accused of indulging in ‘female foeticide’ and others because of social stigmas of having a pregnancy out of wedlock.

    What we have to understand is that a woman’s safety is paramount. If you are seeking an abortion:
    Go to a registered and licensed gynaecologist
    Ask them whether they have a licensed MTP centre, or can refer you to one
    They cannot ask you to bring in your spouse or partner (or your guardian if you are above 18)
    They cannot breach confidentiality
    They cannot deny you safe services if you fall within the legal purview of the MTP Act

    Be empowered with information and demand your right to safe medical services.

    With inputs from by Dr. Manjit Kaur, MBBS, a practicing Gynaecologist for more than 30 years in Ludhiana, Punjab; feedback from Dr. Arvinder Singh, who runs a Maternal Health NGO in Punjab since more than 20 years, and special thanks to Mr. Anand Pawar and Mr. Shirish Waghmare from Samyak.

    Busting Myths of the morning-after pill


    I had a roommate in college who was popping emergency pills about thrice a month. I really did not want to interfere but being the daughter of a gynaecologist, I was concerned about her health. So I casually asked her about it, to which her response was, “It’s convenient coz we don’t have sex that often”. For her it was a planned method of birth control and luckily did not seem to show many side effects. However, we were inspired to, what is now referred to as, ‘Google it all’, and what we found, had me dragging her for birth control counseling the next day.

    So before we tackle myths surrounding the ‘magic pill’, let me reiterate: HAVE SAFE SEX! DO NOT put yourself at risk! However, if you do make a mistake, before you run to fetch the emergency contraceptive pill (ECP), let’s get a few facts straight!

    MYTH NO. 1: The ECP will cause an ABORTION
    Please remember that the pill will only inhibit fertilisation or implantation, and will not abort an existing pregnancy, which is why it is recommended that the pill be taken within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse. If you suspect you are pregnant, please visit a gynaecologist.

    MYTH NO. 2: ECPs can be used as BIRTH CONTROL PILLS
    Even though most ECPs contain the same hormones that regular birth control pills contain, ECPs may work by either stopping the release of an egg, stopping the sperm from fertilizing the egg, or preventing a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus.
    On the other hand, Birth Control Pills prevent pregnancy mainly by stopping ovulation. When the egg is not released, there is nothing to be fertilized by the sperm, and there will be no pregnancy.


    The operative word in ECPs is EMERGENCY. They are not for regular use.


    ECPs are available over the counter and you do not need to consult a doctor or get a prescription to obtain them. However, it is advisable to ask your regular gynaecologist or General practitioner to recommend some for future use when required.

    MYTH NO. 4: Taking the pill too often will make me INFERTILE
    ECPs are not meant for regular use, so yes using them too often does lead to side effects like a disturbed menstrual cycle, but no, they will not make you infertile. They can even be used more than once in a single month (period cycle), even though this is not recommended because of the side effects.

    MYTH NO. 5: ECPs have PERMANENT side effects
    The emergency pills do not appear to have any permanent or long-term effects, however, short-term side effects are a very real possibility. The most common among them is nausea. If you do happen to vomit within 2 hours of taking an ECP, take another dose ASAP.

    MYTH NO. 6: ECP is my ONLY OPTION after unprotected sex
    There is also the option of having an emergency Intrauterine device (IUD) inserted into your uterus, and no, it is not as scary as it sounds. It is a small plastic and copper device that can be fitted into your uterus up to five days after unprotected sex. You can even choose to keep the IUD for up to five or 10 years. The IUD must be inserted by a licensed gynaecologist.

    Take charge of your health and your body, and never hesitate to consult a doctor. Modern medicine and modern society are all on your side. So are we!

    With inputs from Dr. Manjit Kaur, MBBS, a practicing Gynaecologist since more than 30 years in Ludhiana, Punjab.

    What is Safe Sex?

    Staying safe is a basic human right. Especially when it comes to something as intimate as sex. The physical, emotional and chemical medley that sex is, it’s quite easy to get carried away and simply forget healthy ways of doing it.

    So what’s the safe word for sex?
    It is important to have your partner’s consent and also to practice safe sex. Technically, safe sex is nothing but sexual activity engaged in by people who have taken precautions to protect themselves against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or to prevent pregnancy. Here are some important things to keep in mind about safe sex:

  • Self-will: Safe is about being into it of your own free will.
  • Secure: Safe is about feeling secure and loved, at every level of body, mind and soul.
  • Self-esteem: Safe is also about sense of positive self-esteem, a feel-good about yourself.
  • Health and hygiene: These are the basics building blocks of Safe Sex.
  • How can you make sex safer?

    Be it for protecting yourself against infections (STIs) or upping your confidence, every man or woman has the right to demand safe sex.

  • Barrier to STIs: A male or female condom acts as a latex barrier, preventing the transmission of STIs. This is your safest bet to safe sex, so get out and explore various options. Today, the market is flooded with contraceptive methods such as chocolate-flavored condoms and extra-dotted ones. Use dental dams for oral sex etc. Read more on contraception here
  • Talk safe, be safe: ‘Communication’ is the cure to most of our trials and tribulations. So is the case for engaging in safe sex with your partner. Discuss the pros and cons of various contraceptives. A loving relationship must share respect and concern for well-being, and that includes safe sex. A few words of worth can do wonders for a great sex life.
  • Stay faithful, stay safe: Discover the awesome love that endures when one is committed to one partner. Chuck out the complications from your love life and avoid having multiple sexual partners.
  • Get in control, choose the best birth control: Are you newly married or a couple who are not planning to have kids? We suggest you try oral contraceptives, with guidance from a medical practitioner. Birth control is a great way to prevent pregnancy, though it does not protect against STIs.
  • More important than ever is to be aware and informed about your sexual health. Get yourself and your partner tested for STIs and together pledge to embark on the path to sexual wellbeing. Take charge of your sexual health today and set on the journey to a beautiful and healthy life ahead.

    All you need to know about popping the pill

    As with everything related to sex, contraception is something no one talks openly about. Contraception is something every woman has the right to know. However, there’s an ocean of misinformation that one has to swim through to finally arrive at the information that’s right for you.

    Contraception offers a host of benefits to individuals, families and to the community as a whole:

  • It allows couples to plan when to make decisions on family planning including when to start, stop as well as how to space
  • It is important in reducing pregnancy-related health hazards, by preventing pregnancies in quick succession and deaths from unsafe abortions due to unwanted pregnancies
  • Like many other things, there are a various methods to contraception available out there such as:

    Barrier method: This method prevents the sperm from physically entering the uterus. They encompass a wide range of products from male and female condoms to sponges, cervical caps etc.

    Condoms are the only form of contraceptives that prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Not just HIV but also infections like chlamydia and HPV which could result in infertility and cervical cancer.
    A female condom is a soft plastic sheath that covers the vagina and partly the external genitalia. It prevents against both pregnancy and STDs. The biggest advantage it offers is that it allows woman power over her birth control. However, it is more expensive compared to the male condom and insertion will require some practice.

    Hormonal Methods: These are the most effective but among the most (erroneously) maligned methods of contraception. They are available in the form of pills, injections, inserts and intrauterine devices.
    The contraceptive pill is the more popular method. They decrease menstrual cramps and discomfort, reduce the risk of ovarian and endometrial cancer and blood loss. Fertility returns to pre-pill levels within 2-3 months of discontinuation. It may cause nausea in the first month of use in some women, which is transient. Depression is the other side effect, which is seen in a very small percentage of women.
    Intrauterine devices are another method. Also popularly known as copper-T. While copper IUDs may increase menstrual bleeding and result in more painful cramps, hormonal IUDs may reduce menstrual bleeding or stop menstruation completely. They however do not affect breastfeeding and can be inserted immediately after delivery or after an abortion. Once removed, even after long-term use, fertility returns to normal immediately.

    Emergency contraception: Contrary to popular belief, these are not abortion pills. These pills should be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sexual intercourse. Nausea, breast tenderness, delayed menstruation, lower abdominal ache, headache, vomiting and irregular menstruation are just some of the side effects of the pill. Its long time usage can lead to severe menstrual problems or even ovarian damage. It’s not the most effective or the most reliable method of birth control and should be used in times of genuine emergencies like contraceptive failure (condom tearing).

    While this guide is a starter, it is best to discuss contraception methods with your healthcare provider and opt for one that both you and your partner are comfortable with.

    Getting the act right!

    We have all grown up in a closed culture where to refer to two people ‘doing it’ conjures up visuals of two flowers touching each other and the screen blurring out to allow the flowers some privacy. How romantic! But let’s face it; some of us even learnt about sex not through sex education or having ‘the talk’ with parents, but by watching movies (read wrong movies) and maybe some erotica. Worse still, some of us have grown on pornography and still imagine others’ sex lives to be as rollicking as those actors’. The result: A lot of misconceptions and myths are circulated amongst people on sex, some of which may harm them in the long run.

    Sex, even today is a taboo and people don’t like discussing it openly. But come on! It is an important as well a wonderful part of our lives. Furthermore, it is our duty and right to know more, as much as we need to know our geography and civics. Most of us have a lot of questions about sex, but don’t know whom to ask and where to look for. So we have tried to draw up a few basic points which could help you begin well. Of course, it’s not defined like in a rulebook, but that is the natural progression nevertheless.

    So, how do we do it?
    You are an adult or are mentally and physically mature enough to make love with your partner. It’s natural to be nervous, but take it easy. Don’t pressurize yourself to ‘perform’ – it’s a natural act so be yourself. But here are a few tips or points you might want to keep in mind to make your experience a beautiful and smooth one for both.
    Set the mood: You may need to set the mood right, to initiate the act of making love. You can start by cuddling and hugging. This may get you comfortable and let you enjoy each other’s company while slowly easing into the act.
    Kiss it up: Usually you begin making love with a passionate kiss. Enjoy the warmth of a nice long kiss to get physically close and express your intimate feelings. Don’t rush it in, or bite. And puhlease…don’t rely on porn films to teach you that. Be gentle or passionate, depending on what the two of you are in the mood for.

    Foreplay: As you move on, you will feel like exploring each others’ bodies. Cuddling, fondling, kissing each other all over your bodies (especially the erogenous parts) are integral to foreplay. And foreplay is imperative as it determines the quality of your final intercourse. The better the foreplay, the more exciting and passionate your climax. So make each other happy, make each other feel wanted and don’t rush into it. You will know you are both ready for the finale.

    The Act: Penetrative sex comes naturally, after some exciting foreplay. If you and your partner are still exploring, it can be a good idea to ask if s/he is ready till the time you get a hang of each other’s rhythms. It’s also important to choose a position that’s comfortable to both. You could choose from over 200 positions. (Don’t start looking up the menu then, know well in advance what is it that makes you and your partner both comfortable :))

    Insertion: When you get down to the right position, the male partner will try inserting his penis in the vagina. If this is your girl’s first time, then please be gentle. The guy should be gentle and slowly thrust himself in. And hey lady, guide your man to minimize his feeling of being ‘lost’ or getting pain. Thereafter, as the penis penetrates deeper inside with each thrust, you are just one step away from achieving an orgasm.

    The Climax: This is when ejaculation happens for both the partners. It is the highest point of your act of making love, the most sensual and pleasurable aspect of sex. Also called orgasm, it’s the ultimate blissful state of mind and body, when you will feel complete and made love to. Enjoy those few minute of elation, with your bodies all charged up and the mind in a blank state. Please keep in mind that orgasms in women might be a little delayed as a woman needs more foreplay. Men, avoid rushing into the climax for fear of premature ejaculation. Both partners should be equally satisfied, but sadly a lot of men fail to recognise that their women too have the right to orgasm. Make sure you give her the best and what she deserves!

    A word of caution!
    Sex must always be about feeling good about yourself and your partner. But the most important factor here is ‘consent’. Avoid forcing your partner into sexual activities they aren’t comfortable with. Respect your partner and their choices as well. Also, we strongly advise use of contraceptives or condoms so as to avoid unwanted pregnancies and transmission of sexual infections or diseases.

    Safe Sex Way or the Highway

    Sex is a universal truth, everyone engages in it and enjoys it! Yet this very pleasurable experience may turn out to be a nightmare, if not done right! The UNAIDS has recorded that there were approximately 36.7 million people worldwide living with HIV/AIDS at the end of 2015. Moreover despite all the awareness propaganda, an additional 2.1 million individuals worldwide became newly infected with HIV in 2015! Life-destructing to say the least, that to when it’s completely avoidable!

    What is safe sex?

    Sex must be a pleasurable experience, in mind, body and soul. It must make you feel wanted and desired, at the same time evoke love and respect. It should lead to healthy and happy life, not be a disaster in the making. Sometimes, all the jazz that is portrayed around sex kind of blows the concept of sex out of proportion, attaching dangerous notions to it. This is especially confusing for those who are new to it. It is your birth right and responsibility to always stay safe, the same applies to sex. That’s why it is important to know what Safe Sex is all about.

    Technically, Safe sex is when one engages in sexual activity after taking the necessary precautions to protect themselves against sexually transmitted infections (STI) and/or to prevent pregnancy. We can sum it up as SSSH as follows:

    •   Self-will: You must feel safe and secure while indulging in any sexual activity. Exercise your own free will, do not come under pressure, for you may later feel sorry for yourself.
    •   Secure: Sex is not just the physical act, great sex is also a result of bonding between partners. One must feel secure and loved, throughout.
    •   Self-esteem: Sex must make you feel good about yourself and not give rise to self-doubt of guilt. It should build a positive self-esteem in you- about your body and mind. Insulting behaviours like body shaming, forcefully engaging in sex can destroy self-esteem.
    •   Health and hygiene: Be sure to stay healthy and hygienic, know your limits and stick to them during sex.

     Why it is important to be protected?

    Once sexually active, a woman undergoes changes in body and mind. A direct outcome of unprotected sex is pregnancy. So hey, if you are not looking at having a baby soon, better to be safe and stick to protection or contraception. Safe and protected sex is the best preventive measure rather than opting for an abortions later on.

    Sexual intercourse may lead to body fluids being transferred from one person to another, along with it carrying disease. Sexually transmitted infections and diseases such as HIV, AIDS, Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Syphilis, Genital herpes, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C are some of the conditions that can be transmitted sexually. The risk level increase in the case of multiple partners.

    As they say, prevention is better than cure. So why not use the best of preventive methods and enjoy safe sex!

    How can you make sex safer for yourself?

    Every woman has the right to demand Safe Sex, so go on and take your pick and get ready to SSSH!

    ✓       Your barrier to STIs, literally: A male or female condom acts as a latex barrier, offering dual protection in terms of prevention of STIs as well as providing contraception. When used properly, it is the most effective means of ensuring safe sex. This is your safest bet to safe sex, so find out more about the barrier-based contraceptives for both males and females. Today the market is flooded with kinky stuff like chocolate flavoured condoms and extra-dotted ones for the O-Some Orgasm! Get all exploratory and enjoy the ride to safe sex! Deep dive into the world of contraceptives since any type of contact may lead to an STI. Use dental dams for oral sex! Read more on contraception in our Sex Ed section.

    ✓        Talk safe, be safe: Talk the S word with your partner. Together, discuss the pros and cons of various contraceptives, what you like and do not like, and decide what suits your sex life the best! A loving relationship must share respect and concern for well-being, and that includes safe sex! So speak up the theme “Safe”!

    ✓        Sex during Safe period: In a typical 28 days cycle, days 8-18 are considered optimal for conception. Alternatively, sex outside this fertile window has very low possibility of resulting in pregnancy. This can be considered safe sex in the limited context of birth control (RHYTHM METHOD). However, it is not a fool proof method and does not offer any protection against STIs. It is, therefore, recommended only for committed, loyal, preferably married couples.

    ✓        Stay faithful, stay safe: Loyalty towards one partner can go a long way in staying safe. Multiple partners (even not overlapping) may lead to complications. For example, the HIV virus can remain dormant in our system for years (without one knowing) and be passed on through sexual intercourse. It’s a good idea to get yourself tested for HIV, if this is the case.

    ✓        Get in control, choose the best birth control: Having babies or not, the decision is entirely yours. But you can exercise a control in your life by choosing the best form of birth control method that suits you. While oral contraceptives will not protect against STIs, barrier-contraceptives will. Try out alternatives, consult a doctor and be worry free.

    More important than ever, Be Aware! Be Informed! Get yourself and your partner tested for STIs and together pledge to start off on the path to a Sexual wellbeing!  Take charge of your sexual health today and carve your path to beautiful SEXperiences!



    “Dr. Vivek Arora is an advisory doctor for SheAndYou, providing invaluable practical insights on matters of female wellness for our column. He is a keen propagator of health awareness and volunteers to create and validate content that benefits our readers.”

    Dr. Vivek Arora completed MBBS (1999) and MS (2003) from the renowned Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi and enjoys contributing content to medical journals towards educating people on health and wellbeing. No wonder he is known as the “doctor who writes”!